Development and Initial Testing of a Micro-Newton Torsion Pendulum with Gas-Dynamic Calibration

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Virginia Tech


A novel torsion pendulum thrust test stand for micro-Newton-scale spacecraft thrusters is described. The stand is designed to be robust against electromagnetic interference effects internal or external to the thruster being tested. The design and testing of a gas-dynamic calibration thruster is included. This thruster is fully self-contained on the pendulum arm, with no external wires or feedlines connected to the device and impacting the dynamic response of the underlying pendulum. Initial calibration results are shown. Zero drift and hysteresis are present in the results, evidenced by a constant steady-state displacement drift and a return to a different displacement after shutdown of the calibration thruster. Results are compared to theoretical solutions of the equation of motion. An external forcing function of facility effects is described for discrepancies between results and the theoretical solution. Further work to eliminate these effects and add damping are proposed.



spacecraft, propulsion, test facility, torsion pendulum, gas dynamic flow